There are now six questionable deaths over the last few years that has the Ferguson community on edge. Two men were found burned inside their cars. Three others reportedly committed suicide. Yet another was found dead from a drug overdose on a bus.
All of the eyebrow-raising deaths have caused concern in the Ferguson community with some saying that there’s something peculiar happening as a result of the activists’ vocal opposition after a white police officer was acquitted in the 2014 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Police say there is no evidence to prove that the deaths are connected to the victims’ activism work. “We don’t believe either one was connected to each other,” said St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire. However, he said, “It’s tough to come up with a motive without a suspect.”
“These protesters and their deaths may not be a high priority for (police) since there is this antagonistic relationship,” said Washington University sociologist Odis Johnson. “I think there is a need for them to have a greater sense of urgency.”
“Everybody is on pins and needles,” said Rev. Darryl Gray about the culture of the city.
Gray said he even found a box inside his vehicle that caused concern. When police arrived to inspect it, they found a python inside.
Activist Cori Bush is convinced there is an eerie connection. She can speak of this first hand as she claims to have been nearly run off the road in one instance and shot at in another.
“Something is happening,” said Bush, who has also led Ferguson protests. “I’ve been vocal about the things that I’ve experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts...”
Last October, Melissa McKinnies lost her 24-year old son, Danye Jones, who was found hanging from a tree in his yard. McKinnies, just like her son, was a former member of Ferguson grassroots activist group Lost Voices and participated in several protests in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown. She believes their activism is tied to her son’s death and that he did not kill himself. The other men who were found dead include:
DeAndre Joshua who was found in his car with two gunshot wounds to the head the night of the Ferguson verdict in 2014. Two years later, Darren Seals was found dead with two gunshot wounds also to the head in his car. In both instances, the cars were set on fire.
In 2017, Edward Crawford, the activist who became viral from an iconic Ferguson protest picture showing him grabbing an active tear gas canister fired from police and throwing the explosive back at them, was found shot to death in his car. Police believe Crawford shot himself in the back seat of his car either in an attempted suicide or by accident. Bassem Masri, another local activist who frequently livestreamed video of Ferguson demonstrations, was found unresponsive on a bus. Toxicology reports indicate he died from an overdose of fentanyl.